Every Christmas Story Ever Told Three actors weary of staging the same old Scrooge decide to attempt a demolition derby summary of every holiday book, play and movie in existence (and The Nutcracker, too). This irreverent revue features lots of bad wigs and guys in drag. The antics include fast, physical comedy and rapid-fire jokes, incorporating a few volunteers dragged out of the audience. It’s very much in the manner of The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (which trashed the Bard’s canon) and The Big Bang (which did the same with the history of western civilization).
Capital Stage, various showtimes, $22-$25. Onboard the Delta King Riverboat, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento; (916) 995-5464, www.capitalstagecompany.com. Through December 31. J.H.
The Gift of the Magi The Foothill Theatre Company, nestled in the picture-perfect Christmas-card town of Nevada City, has all the ingredients for a sweet holiday treat. It has the classic O. Henry Christmas short story of selfless love through the gift exchange between two poor newlyweds, a delightful Victorian set, and endearing acting and singing. The result is a festive holiday dish that’s tasty and timely, but unfortunately suffers from an overdose of sugar. The sappy, syrupy songs make the story more saccharine than quietly sweet and thoughtful. Fortunately, holiday time is the one time that a too-sweet musical can still be a Christmas treat for the whole family.
Foothill Theatre Company, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $11-$26. Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street in Nevada City; (530) 265-8587, www.foothilltheatre.org. Through December 30. P.R.
Mahalia Celebration Arts revives its 2005 holiday show devoted to the music and life of gospel great Mahalia Jackson. Elise Reese returns in the title role. She’s got a big, soulful voice, and she’s singing the wonderful hymns and standards that made Mahalia a stadium entertainer in the 1950s and 1960s: “Move On Up A Little Higher,” “Deep River,” “Elijah Rock” and others. Interspersed between the songs are biographical sketches by playwright Tom Stolz, some of which are pretty corny. This show’s well worth seeing for the music, which is one of this country’s gifts to the world. Last year, many performances in this 49-seat theater sold out. Call ahead for tickets.
Celebration Arts, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$15. No performance on December 24. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through December 20. J.H.
The Peculiar and Sudden Nearness of the Moon Sydney Spencer is discovering dark family secrets. “Dark,” as in the color of her newborn baby’s skin, a color that doesn’t match the paleness of either parent. The idea that one incident can topple an ingrained identity and belief in one’s own skin color, culture, and class is a fascinating topic explored in this world premiere from multiracial playwright Velina Hasu Houston. Most of it works, if you keep in mind that the play is still being work-shopped. There is much to applaud about this production, from the thought-provoking subject matter to the talented cast. However, Houston needs to lessen the dramatics of the first half and pull the second half together.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $32-$36. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722 or (888) 4-STCTIX, www.sactheatre.org. Through December 31. P.R.
The Princess and the Pauper Playwright David Pierini’s comedy for children is very (very) loosely based on a classic tale by Mark Twain. The prince becomes a princess, putting a girl into an otherwise male-dominated story. Pierini and director Jerry Montoya work in lots of gender inversion and physical comedy, like a very funny king (Rick Kleber) who burps in an almost volcanic manner, and a bumbling henchman (Miles Miniaci) who steals a scene by turning up in a wedding dress. Parents looking for genuine Twain may be disappointed, but kids will enjoy the loopy humor. Playwright Pierini clearly is very much in touch with his own inner child.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street; (530) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through December 31. J.H.
Tell Me on a Sunday This is a great showcase for a talented performer to show off her singing and acting chops, and that’s just what Alexandra Ralph does in this Andrew Lloyd Webber one-woman musical. This story of Emma, a British hat designer trying to make it in New York City, is told all in song and without dialogue. To succeed, one has to be an engaging performer with an impressive singing voice. Ralph delivers on both counts. Unfortunately, this is basically a string of songs about Emma’s string of men. We begin to wish Emma would spend as much time finding a life as she does finding, losing and pining for men. This revival of last May’s production is the Actor’s Theatre’s first effort at its new Folsom venue.
Actor’s Theatre of Folsom; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday; $20-$22. Stage Nine Entertainment Store and Theatre, 717 Sutter Street in Folsom; (916) 933-8008. Through December 31. P.R.
Throwing Parties Writer/director Buck Busfield’s new holiday play introduces us to a working-class Italian-American family in the economically declining Midwest. The story begins as domestic comedy (with a Catholic twist) based on everyday life. We treasured the marvelous, mute performance by white-haired Mitch Agruss, the patriarch of the B Street acting company. This is suddenly interrupted by serious real-world events as the story spins into crisis, yet just when despair is closing in, there’s an otherworldly intervention. Need we add that there’s a warm and fuzzy ending? The final scene could still use a bit of tweaking, but, for the most part, this is a good little play.
B Street Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $25-$30. 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through December 31. J.H.